47 members of the Morgan Chapter of the Sons of Utah Pioneers met at Larry’s Spring Chicken Inn on August 19 for their monthly luncheon. Gene Allred gave the Member/Pioneer of the Month Report. Gene reported on his great-great grandfather, John Jacob Walser II. John’s father was a prominent Lutheran minister in Switzerland. One day he came home and told his wife that they did not have the whole truth, speaking of religion. He said that the sermon he preached that day was his last. He died when John Jacob was six years old, having never preached another sermon. The family ended up joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and emigrated to Payson, Utah. John Jacob enjoyed music and was made chorister for the stake choir. He also became the community band leader, having his own band. He married his first wife, Anna Louisa Schaerrer, in 1870. Shortly thereafter he was called on a mission to go back to Switzerland. While there, he translated the Pearl of Great Price into German. After returning from his mission, he married his second wife, Martha Mary Louise Frischknecht and was arrested for 6 months for cohabitating. Several hundred men were in the prison at that time, all for practicing polygamy. After being released, John sent his second wife to live in Midway with a friend. He was then called on another mission to Switzerland where he served for two years. When he returned, the climate for those practicing polygamy worsened, so he decided to immigrate to Mexico, where he stayed with a friend named Henry Eyring (President Eyring’s father). Eventually, John purchased some property where he and his family of eighteen lived together in one room, while they were building a house. John enjoyed working with leather so he opened a tannery, doing leather working and saddles.
In 1910 the Mexican Revolution started, which lasted about 4 years. Life was hard during this time. Revolutionaries, such as Poncho Villa, would steal their livestock and guns. Because of the danger, John and the others sent their wives to El Paso and would visit occasionally. When they eventually returned to Utah, he has made bishop of the Forrest Ward later Patriarch until he died at the age of 88.
Guest speaker for the luncheon was Bishop Rick Barnes. Bishop Barnes is from Arco, Idaho. As a young man he served a mission in Dusseldorf, Germany from 1973 to 1975. He then returned home to continue his education, graduating from BYU. In 1977, he married his sweetheart, Elise. They have six children and fifteen grandchildren. He worked for the Boy Scouts of America for thirty-seven years, retiring in 2016. On Thursday, September 29,th, he and his wife received a mission call to serve in Latvia to serve in Seminary and Institute program. The LDS Church was organized in Latvia in 1993. There are about 1,200 members in all of Latvia. There are four countries in the Latvian mission: Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Belarus.
The Barnes’ lived in the city in a pre-World War II building on the fourth floor with no elevator or air conditioning. They decided to begin by learning the language, which is very difficult. As they were reading a talk in a church magazine in Latvian and English entitled “What Lack I Yet”, by Elder Larry Lawrence, Bishop Barnes wrote several things down that he needed to improve on. Over time through study, he learned to love the Savior even more. During their first 10 months in Rega they were without a senior couple. As a result, the young single adults had not had a single home evening. The Barns decided to start holding them. They held them weekly. Most of the young people are pioneers, being the only ones in their family that belonged to the Church. They also helped the young missionaries. In November, Bishop Barnes was called to serve as the second counselor in the district presidency, which covers four branches, speaking Latvian and Russian. His responsibilities were to be over the Young Adult,, Seminary and institute, and Young Men/Young Women programs. Now they were able to travel to these different branches, all by public transportation; train, bus, trolley, and walking. Each month they would visit a branch to speak and visit with the branch president, and meet with the youth. They were able to help integrate new youth members with current members. Their last home evening was a picnic in the park where one of the your opened his mission call. Another youth who had bee addicted to drugs changed his life and joined the Church. He approached the Barnes and told them he loved it there. He loved the way of life and how it changed him. The Barnes were forever changed by their experience in Latvia.